Textbook costs are one of the most overlooked costs of going to college, but they can be substantial and can be a barrier to attaining a college education. According to College Board, the average student spent $1,200 on college books and supplies during the 2012-13 academic year. The cost of new textbooks has increased 82% over the last decade according to GAO.
The Affordable College Textbook Act seeks to influence the textbook market by expanding the use of open access textbooks on college campuses, providing cheaper alternatives to expensive traditional textbooks and thereby keeping prices lower.
Open textbooks are educational resources that are licensed under an open license and made available free of charge to the public. This allows professors, students, researchers, and others to freely access these materials as a supplement or alternative to traditional textbooks.
Specifically the bill:
• Creates a grant program to support pilot programs at colleges and universities to create and expand the use of open textbooks with priority for those programs that will achieve the highest savings for students
• Ensures that any open textbooks or educational materials created using program funds will be freely and easily accessible to the public
• Requires entities who receive funds to complete a report on the effectiveness of the program in achieving savings for students
• Improves existing requirements for publishers to make all textbooks and other educational materials available for sale individually rather than as a bundle
• Requires the Government Accountability Office to report to Congress by 2017 with an update on the price trends of college textbooks